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Although it made sense for me to move into the apartment above my mother (the cliché re: the fagola son taking care of Mommy in her twilight years aside), I must admit I'm entering into 2003 with trepidation. The adjustment is larger and more fundamental than I had imagined. Even when I'm in my own space, I can hear her television blaring downstairs and I'm acutely aware of her movements. Plus she has developed the interesting habit of turning on the dishwasher precisely when I'm taking a shower. If nothing else, it should provide plenty of fodder for 100 Words.
I received some hate E-mail based on my 100 Words. Verbal gay bashing. Not the first time, but it's certainly the most vicious. I apparently "asked for it." My humanity minimized, my presence nullified. I try not to validate my existence by the thoughts and actions of others, but I'm a social beast. I want acceptance and inclusion, especially within the 100 Words community. I'm only human, right? It was easier when, after facing a world of hurts, I could find comfort in the warm arms of one who qualified me, quantified me, made me their reason and their ally.
An Open Letter to the Neolith who Sent Me Hate Mail:
Congratulations. Your e-mail yesterday upset and disturbed me. Today, however, I'm filled with moral outrage—outrage that you can kidnap a religion and use it as an excuse to be an ignorant sniveling bigot. Your rhetoric is noxious and contradictory, and your bizarre assertion linking homosexuality with Thalidomide (implying that the former didn't exist prior to the latter) displays your abject vacuity. You're proof that a Christian extremist is as equally dangerous as a Muslim extremist. To paraphrase Gandhi—Jesus Christ was a great guy; it's Christians I hate.
Mourners passed quietly by her coffin, one by one. From my seat at the back of the funeral parlor I caught fleeting, mesmerizing glimpses of her face, still and serene. Her long chestnut hair was magnificently arranged, cascading over her white shoulders, ending in soft, beatific rings on the uplifts of her breasts. Occasionally she appeared to breathe, one unbelievable inhale, and the air in my throat would escape audibly. I half expected her to arise, climb limberly from her silken casket, walk with sensuous deliberation towards me and whisper contritely, "I'm pregnant." And no one believing her but me.
The actor Clifton Webb's mother Maybelle, notorious in 1940's Hollywood as a party animal, lived well into her nineties (Humphrey Bogart, inviting Clifton to a party, reportedly added, "Bring your fucking mother and she can wipe up her own vomit this time"). When the indomitable Maybelle finally passed away, Clifton was inconsolable. Noel Coward quipped, "Poor Clifton. It must be tough to be orphaned at seventy-one." But it is true, isn't it? No matter one's age, when you've lost both parents, you feel like an orphan. Today's my Mom's 81st birthday. You can well imagine what I'm thinking right now.
During the throes of sexual passion, my first boyfriend Wes told me he was going to do something that would drive me wild. He then proceeded to spit-shine my eardrum with his tongue. What Wes did not know was that I had suffered from ear infections my entire life. All manner of vile secretions had oozed from my ears, from a greenish-yellow pus to a blackish paste that disgusted even the doctor. And suddenly, there was Wes, french-kissing one of them, his saliva infusing with the memory of something unholy, and I screamed out loudly.
We broke up shortly thereafter.
I couldn't get out of my friggin' house this morning.
A mammoth icicle has adhered itself to the outside of the back entryway. Its weight caused the boards to stretch, allowing water to cover the inside wall and floor; now both are sheets of refreezing ice, immobilizing the storm door. Aided by a can of deicer, and my sister chopping with a shovel from the outside, we were finally able to free the door, which will now remain open until spring.
Then my CAR died.
Then—honest!—my PHONE died.
I'm being fucked every which way but sideways.
On a solo stop-over in London en route to Vienna, I encountered one of the city's myriad homeless men—he was relatively young, bedraggled yet pleasant-faced; his eyes, unseeing, focusing instead on a tenebrous spot within his swollen dispirit, reflected a haunted, shattering desperateness. Stricken, I gave him £50 and continued on. He chased after me and gratefully, tearfully attempted to return the money. I impulsively asked him back to my hotel. He showered. We had sex. I know. Foolish. He could have murdered me, but didn't. He wouldn't stay, returning to the darkening streets. Tormented. Alone. God help us.
We would be lined up, row after row, seated upon wooden pews, as Father Sorbell paced in front of us, menstruating religious threats and hell-fire promises in a febrile zeal. Sister Teresa, clicker in hand, lurked like a mastodon behind him. "Remember when you accidentally touched that hot stove?" Father would almost coo. "Remember how it burned? That was NOTHING!" Father then accelerated into a lathered crescendo. "It is not just your finger, but your entire NAKED BODY pressed against that hot stove, a thousand times hotter, BURNING,
!!" We would listen, wide-eyed, and occasionally a child would whisper, "Cool!"
I grouse about the winter, but there are aspects of it that I enjoy. Like water that runs as cold from the tap as from the frig. And, here in northeastern USA, the appearance of Orion on a cold clear night. Aside from the Big Dipper, it's the one constellation I can discern without assistance. And it's sexy as hell. Those strong, broad shoulders, tapering down into perfect V-like grace to a waist bearing a low-riding belt, angled in a blue-collar, "I hear you're looking for a talented mechanic" kind of way.
How sad am I?? Lusting after the stars…
So North Korea has withdrawn from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Sheee-iiit. Who didn't see THAT coming? They would have been idiots
to withdraw. Once the U.S. finishes whacking around Saddam, who might they turn towards next? That question must give North Korea pause. This administration apparently cannot exist without an enemy. So way to go, George W. Fuckhead. Who do you plan on estranging next? Methinks you're doing a good job alienating the ‘Big Fella' upstairs, to say nothing of your karma. Before throwing around the accusation "evil," you might want to give the mirror an occasional sideways glance.
Dating Eminem was infinitely surprising. For example, I was thunderstruck to learn he was a devout Judy Garland fan. He even composed an…
hiphop version of "The Trolley Song":
Clang Clang Clang went the trolley (muhthah FUCKuh! muhthah FUCKuh!)
Ding Ding Ding went the bell
Schwing Schwing Schwing went my pecker (muhthah FUCKuh! muhthah FUCKuh!)
From the moment I saw him I FELL!! (muhthah FUCK!)
Thump Thump Thump went my manshaft (muhthah FUCKuh! muhthah FUCKuh!)
Bang Bang Bang up your hole
Gush Gush Gush went my manjuice (muhthah FUCKuh! muhthah FUCKuh!)
Fuckin' you with my ten-inch manPOLE! (muhthah FUCK!)
Today at a stop light I had a charming altercation with a toothless bedraggled hag. Here's how it went:
Hag (jumping out of car behind me, shrieking): WHY AREN'T YOU MOVING??!!
Me: Because I have a red light.
Hag: THE LIGHT IS GREEN!!
Me: The green light is for the right lane traveling straight.
light is for a left turn, and it's red.
Hag (pounding on my car roof): BUT YOU'RE NOT MOVING!!
Me (trying again): Because I'm turning left, and I have a red light.
Hag: I'M NOT TURNING LEFT!!!
Me: THEN YOU'RE IN THE WRONG FUCKING LANE!!!
The company I work for was recently acquired by a clumsy, larger outfit that seems to know not what to do with its redheaded stepchild, except to abuse it frequently. Today there was a mass meeting for retirees to introduce them to the new company's benefits package. It was astonishing how many people I knew, how many I hadn't thought about in years: women I had giggled and gossiped with; men after whom I had lusted; a parade of the semi-decrepit that used to be my work buddies. My twenty years of service has elapsed in a gossamer, shimmering heartbeat.
Today is Jeff Koyen's 34th birthday.
If I could but select an age, it would definitely be between 30 and 35. I had the most creative energy then. I had enough life experience under my belt to truly comprehend Walt Whitman and Marcel Proust. And, of course, David was alive. Being 43 isn't such a huge change—not really. Except the encroachment of advancing age whispers seductively into your sensibilities: your blood pressure creeps higher each year; your doctor quizzes about your prostate; glaucoma tests are mandatory.
And nine years flash by like a shooting star.
Health and happiness, Jeff!
The day AFTER Jesse Helms' Annual Christmas Gala was nothing if not memorable. I received an overwrought early morning phone call from him — he was in the slammer, arrested for drunk and disorderly. When I arrived at the police station, Jesse barely resembled the stunning queen from the previous evening: his garter belt was split, spilling forth his pasty, voluminous belly; his garland turban, unkempt, uncoiled, bore traces of vomit on its end; his lipstick was smeared; his cheeks were bleeding aubergine-colored mascara. Without exchanging a word, I placed his arm around me, assisting Jesse — and his mangled pride — home.
Surprised was I the next day when Jesse Helms greeted me politely at the door. Nattily outfitted in a suit coat and tie, tan khakis, and brown tasseled loafers, he actually looked avuncular, and the transformation made me unexpectedly queasy.
"Well…," I faltered, still startled, "you look… different."
"Don't make fun," he chided. "I'm auditioning for the revival of
Death of a Salesman
. It's an important part, and I want to make a good impression."
"Wow! Willy Loman is an enormous challenge. I'm impressed!"
"Willy?" He eyed me carefully, almost daring a response. "I'm auditioning for the role of
"You're auditioning for the role of
?!" I shrieked at Jesse Helms, aghast. "But honey, you went to your high school prom with Pliny the Elder!"
"Fuck you, you little faggot," he shot back, scowling. Then, calmer, he said, "Why don't you come along and watch? Bring your boyfriend Eminem."
"Oh, we broke up. He did a nasty version of
The Trolley Song
… and, well, as you know, Judy is sacred." We quickly genuflected at the Garland altar, framing our shining faces in our hands.
I accepted the crook of his proffered arm, and we swished gaily towards the theatre.
As Jesse Helms and I traipsed towards his
Death of a Salesman
audition, the conversation clucked out something like this:
"So you say you're seeing someone new. Anyone I know?"
"Oh Jesse, you're going to absolutely adore him! His name is Tyler Florence."
"Who in fuck's name is Tyler Florence?"
"He's a famous New York chef. And he has his own cooking show on the Food Network."
"You're dating a Julia Child knock off?!"
! And he has the most beautiful green eyes…"
"Oh, Jesus Christmas, Girlfriend! Not another ‘White Bread'!"
"No thanks, I don't like leftovers."
More from my bookshelf. "Skipping Towards Gomorrah" "Middlesex" "The Once and Future King" "Shikasta" "Salem is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne" "Moby Dick" "The Lamora Wink" "Cat Tales" "Beside Myself" "The Great Gatsby" "Blue River" "To Kill a Mockingbird" "In the Tennessee Country" "A Little Course in Dreams" "The Drama of the Gifted Child" "Final Analysis" "Walt Whitman: A Life" "Intruder in the Dust" "The Sex Lives of the Kings and Queens of England" "The Bhagavad Gita" "Nemesis" "Don't Fall Off the Mountain" "Do Penguins Have Knees? And Other Imponderables" "Remembrance of Things Past" "Narcissus and Goldman"
"He's gay, you know," my sister's friends will inform perfect strangers, pointing at me. "Yep. A
." While my family stoically accepted my gayness, they were never quick to broadcast it. That's why only recently, in an unusual burst of candor, my sister told her circle of cronies about my sexuality. Suddenly, to my sister's chagrin, I'm invited to all their events, including trips to the theatre (I go) and pajama parties (I don't). I couldn't ask for a better audience. Everything that comes out of my mouth is hilarious to them, whether intentional on my part or not.
) This is a perfect example of what I expressed in my December 21st entry. While well-intentioned, my sister's friends treat me like their pet poodle. It's not in my nature to be flamboyant, but because they expect me to be like Jack on
Will & Grace
, they project his persona onto me, so that even the smallest of gestures – made by me in all innocence – becomes Jack-like to them, and they'll erupt into screams of laughter. However, one of my sister's friends gets incredible theatre seats for a song, so sometimes I play the part. Yeah. I'm a whore.
My mother floored my sister and me by revealing that, when we were little, she had received a series of anonymous phone calls reporting that my father was cheating on her. The caller even fingered the woman! More disturbing was that Mom related this information in tones that were wistfully reminiscent, like telling us how they used to dye their oleo yellow to make it look like butter, or when she and her three friends attended the 1938 World's Fair, all dressed in matching outfits, thinking they were the bees knees. "He WAS a tomcat!" Mom explained simply, lovingly, forgivingly.
Warm and heady chants
Of strange rewards,
Embrace the sweet octagonal glow,
Drums and fifes and jaded flags,
In focus with The Shout.
O Cry, O Shout, O Wretched Voice,
Can we agree to cut the bond,
And slice the light of valued breath?
For we, the Shouted Fell,
Are never quite in tune
With all that is,
Whose name is called
Mangled Cry and Tethered Shout,
In ragged dress and wearied blood,
You move within and without,
With stealth and febrile greed.
This trampled, unlifted heart,
A cornered, broken smile,
Is at your Mercy.
Today I experienced the first medical scare concerning my Mom since I moved in. This morning the wireless doorbell we rigged for her to summon me in case of need suddenly sounded with several swift, urgent rings. I rushed downstairs to find her bleeding fluently at the ankle, an enormous pool of blood lying red and unbelievable on the linoleum, and she not knowing how the small wound had occurred. Because of her Cumiden intake, it streamed like a rivulet for nearly two fretful hours before it finally stopped. She was frantic; I remained inexplicably calm. I've done this before.
Today is the 16th birthday of my close friend's son. I vividly remember the day Chad was born, because I had been invited into the birthing room to videotape the event. That type of thing is no longer allowed, and with good reason – in retrospect, I was very much in the way. It turns out I was not the best choice for the job; I'm pretty emotional, and when Chad began to emerge, the picture jumps and lurches, and all you can hear is me in the background, awash in tears, sniveling and snorking and repeating, "This is so amazing!"
I was severely abused by my paternal grandfather, and I'm still in and out of therapy because of it. Yet, a curious thing. When I was ten – at the center of a most furious storm – I discovered an old photograph of him taken in 1907 when he was 19. He was handsome and wide-eyed and untouched by The Bite. And although I didn't have the language then, I intuited the image was vestigial – it displayed the murmuring potential of a person who know longer existed. I cherish that photo. It's of a grandfather for whom I can finally feel love.
"The Bite." It was the name my nine year old brain gave to the unfathomable, abysmal relationship I had with my grandfather. He adored my twin brother, tall and robust, which was returned tenfold; but my wispy, pallid figure caused within Gramps a consternation – a capacious breach – I can never hope to understand. I didn't know until I was an adult that he was a frighteningly bad parent to his eight children, favoring only one: my Dad. I only knew I was the object of his rage, and felt therefore responsible for it. Responsible for The Bite. Overwhelming. Predatory. Lethal.
"If war [with Iraq] is forced upon us…" spake George W. Bush in grim, self-righteous tones, during the State of the Union Address last evening. I leapt to my feet and screamed at the television, "What the
did he just say?!"
And then he said it again.
"If war is forced upon us…"
I thought my head was going to explode.
I certainly don't need to point out how many things are wrong with that statement. I'm sure I'm not the only one who became positively apoplectic at that moment. You could've knocked my eyes off with a stick.
During the day my head is filled with words, swirling and tumbling about, creating thoughts and ideas for my 100 Words entries, a veritable cacophony of disembodied voices abrim with possibilities. Then I sit down with my trusty laptop, and all those words embark for destinations unknown. It is, I suppose, akin to stage fright. The screen before me is so white and vacant and eerily blank; the cursor blips patiently, awaiting a command, demanding my attention, my action. A bead of sweat assembles on my forehead. I take a deep breath—and type.
God, I AM a drama queen.
I look out over the backyard, covered in almost a foot of dingy, frozen snow, and I long for spring: for the brilliant shine of rampant forsythia, breathtakingly, coherently yellow; for the earthy, humid smell of fresh mown grass; for the happy, lush chirping of the peepers at dusk, lasciviously chatting up a mate.
The white lifeless quiet of winter.
Today is David's birthday. He would have been 45 years old. And I'm yearning for the spring, one he will never see, another equinox unshared. In the blank stillness, longing for spring is a good thing.
Talk amongst yourselves.
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